Following a particularly brutal and costly case, John Jordan goes to a secluded retreat center and encounters one of the most bewildering and haunting cases of his career - the suspicious death of a young woman undergoing an exorcism.
Fighting a losing battle against a powerful undertow of violence and loss, John washes up on the shore of the coastal town of Bridgeport at St. Ann's Abbey, a retreat center carved out of the ubiquitous slash pines of the Florida Panhandle. Temporarily leaving behind the demanding duties of prison chaplaincy and the homicide investigations he is irresistibly drawn to, John comes to St. Ann's in search of serenity. He finds anything but.Dedicated to art, religion, and psychology, St. Ann's is operated by Sister Abigail, a wise and witty middle-aged nun who supervises the counseling center; Father Thomas Scott, an earnest, devout middle-aged priest, in charge of religious studies and spiritual growth; and the young Kathryn Kennedy, an acclaimed novelist responsible for artistic studies and conferences.While undergoing counseling with Sister Abigail because of his depression and self-destructive behavior, John resists the urge to investigate when the body of a young boy staying at St. Ann's is discovered in the Gulf. He is convinced by Sister Abigail that it is no longer just his pride or career or even his marriage, but his soul he is trying to save.
But when Tammy Taylor, the highly sexual young heiress to the Gulf Coast Paper Company fortune, is savagely murdered while undergoing an exorcism by Father Thomas, John can no longer resist. He must find out how she really died and who killed her. And with Father Thomas looking increasingly guilty and the future of St. Ann's at stake, Sister Abigail asks for his help.
Father Thomas, who appears to be the only one who could have killed her, claims Tammy's murder was the work of the demons inside her, but the skeptical Jordan suspects a human culprit with a far more earthly motive.
And human suspects with hidden motives abound in this closed community. Among them, Ralph Reid, the lawyer representing Gulf Coast Paper Company whose job it is to close St. Ann's and reacquire the land; Steve Taylor, the victim's cousin and chief of police who refuses to turn the case over to FDLE; Keith Richie, an ex-con with more than previous crimes to hide; Brad Harrison, the religious zealot handyman who can't seem to quit committing "sins of the flesh" with the victim; and, of course, Father Thomas himself who is most likely to have committed the crime - and the person all the evidence points to.
As evidence and bodies continue to mount, and more and more secrets come to the surface, John realizes he has far more questions than answers, and that the shocking truth may be far stranger than anything he imagined.
A provocative thriller, Blood Sacrifice, is also an exploration into unseen realms of darkness and light - especially those of John Jordan's conflicted heart. Confronting the irrational, superstitious, and greedy, Blood Sacrifice delves into the rise of American exorcisms following their explosion in popular culture, and mourns the loss of Florida's final corner of unspoiled beauty. Blood Sacrifice is an exciting entry into one of the most unique series in contemporary crime fiction.
©2012 Michael Lister (P)2013 Michael Lister
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